What happens after an IRM Review?
The role of the IRM Panel is to make a recommendation to the Fostering or Adoption agency and the Final Decision must be made by the ADM as soon as practicably possible.
- The IRM will send the applicant and the agency a copy of the IRM Panel minutes and its recommendations 12 working days after the review hearing. They will also send the agency a Feedback document which will include advice to the agency on how well their Policies and Procedures reflect their regulatory responsibilities.
- The Agency Decision Maker must proceed to reach a final decision as soon as possible. Good practice indicates that should be within 12 working days of receiving the IRM recommendation.
- In reaching that decision it is important that the ADM adhers to principles set out in the DFE Guidance quoted below.
In reaching a decision or making a qualifying determination, the decision maker should consider Hofstetter v LB Barnet and IRM  EWCA 328 (Admin), in which the court set out guidance for the way in which an adoption agency decision maker should approach a case, whether it is a decision based on the agency panel’s recommendation or the independent review panel’s recommendation. This applies equally to fostering decision makers. The court said that it would be good discipline and appropriate for the decision maker to:
- list the material taken into account in reaching the decision; identify key arguments;
- consider whether they agree with the process and approach of the relevant panel(s) and are satisfied as to its fairness and that the panel(s) has properly addressed the arguments;
- consider whether any additional information now available to them that was not before the panel has an impact on its reasons or recommendation;
- identify the reasons given for the relevant recommendation that they do or do not wish to adopt; and state (a) the adopted reasons by cross reference or otherwise and (b) any further reasons for their decision.
The ADM should send the Final Decision letter to the applicant and send a copy of that record to the IRM Office. Guidance on how to write a final decision letter can be found here
This completes the IRM Review process.